[Mumbai, India] Maharajah afternoon tea at the Sea Lounge, Taj Mahal Palace Hotel

It was our final day in India after 20 days, so we decided to spoil ourselves with Sea Lounge at the Taj Mahal Palace’s Maharajah afternoon tea with a free-flow of champagne.

Local Mumbaikars adore the Sea Lounge, and queues form outside for those without advanced reservations.

Traditional Indian regional snacks took the forefront in this afternoon tea. Absolutely marvelous.

Chaat counter.

Multi-tiered serving trays filled with various exotic repasts from all over India. I think we managed to eat about 20% of what were laid on our table. I did not even venture out to the buffet counters for those other extra choices!

Various types of cakes, canapes and sandwiches.

My fave item were actually the scones, with clotted cream and strawberry jam.

This place is really at the apex of luxury.

Address
Sea Lounge
The Taj Mahal Palace Hotel, B K Boman Behram Marg, Apollo Bandar, Colaba, Mumbai, Maharashtra 400001, India.
Tel: +91-22-6665 3285
Operating hours for afternoon tea: 2pm to 5.30pm

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Amazing spread!

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If I may be so bold, what was the price?

ETA: I see you’ve mentioned it elsewhere. It’s steepish price for locals but at the equivalent of about USD55 not bad by international standards for what you got.

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What?! I feel so let down, @klyeoh :joy::rofl:

Indeed.

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we managed to eat about 20% of what were laid on our table

Let down, indeed. That four foot masala dosa spelled the beginning of the end for the three gnawing beavers.

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There is just so much tummy space that we had! Our waiter came with one of the multi-tiered trays, set it upon our table, and started rattling off the names of 15-20 items on it: all from the princely states like Gujerat, Jodhpur, Jaipur, etc. We were simply overwhelmed.

Waiters also come round every few minutes with platters of pani puri, vada pav, kathi rolls, samosas, etc. - and we kept having to wave them away!

The buffet tables were full of international/non-Indian food items: cucumber sandwiches, ham sandwiches, French vol-au-vents, etc. And the biggest selection of cakes we’d ever seen here.

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Agreed - it’s actually quite a bargain at US$55 (INR4,500) with free-flow of champagne. There is also a INR3,000 (US$36) option without the champagne, which is what most customers opted for.

There is a choice of at least 20 types of tea to choose from, if I remember correctly.

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One of my NYC friends was in Mumbai with her family in tow (husband, kids, father, cousins) and one of the atmospheric / iconic places I had suggested to her as a stop was the Sea Lounge.

The plan had been to spend the morning at the Elephanta caves, disembark at Gateway of India, and cross the street to the Taj for lunch / tea depending on the time.

Turned out the tea starts at 2 not 3, so there was high excitement about combining lunch and afternoon tea into a single meal. Especially after the Elephanta plan got rained out and converted into a city tour in the intermittently pouring rain.

We decided we did not need champagne at 2pm. But my friend’s dad, who had opted out of the tour and spent the morning at the hotel, was ready for some action and demanded champagne :joy:

I found the setup a bit confusing. Because we arrived right at the start, they weren’t ready for table service yet. So we went to the buffet and helped ourselves there (we were starving — it was late for lunch).

The buffet selection was eclectic: chicken sandwiches, veggie sandwiches, tuna crostini, asparagus crostini, ham rolls, croissants with duck salad, croissants with avocado salad, bite-sized lamb kebabs, fish nuggets, chicken tikka in tartlets, pizza, asparagus vol au vents, Pav bhaji in kulcha pockets, veggie skewers, mexican bean roll-ups, shrimp roll-ups, akuri toasted sandwiches, a wide assortment of pastries and indian sweets, and a selection of mocktails (lychee, guava, and vanilla).

They didn’t give us a sense of what would be delivered to the table other than chaat, so we had mostly finished eating before the tiered trays started showing up at the table.

Well, those trays had completely different items than the buffet. There were finger sandwiches (chicken & vegetarian), bite-sized tartes d’alsace, savory puff pastry patties, berry madeleines, chocolate tarts, lemon meringue tarts, and more.

A while later, chaat arrived from the chaat counter — pani puri, dahi batata puri, and sev puri.

Then there was a long lull so we assumed the service was done.

People switched to dessert, which was PLENTUFUL. There was a selection of individually portioned pastries and indian sweets, and then a long table of cakes from from simple to elaborate that you could cut into yourself.

In all this, they never actually asked us about TEA. When another unexpected tiered tray of indian savories and sweets showed up, it prompted me to ask for the missing tea to accompany them.

The sight of more food had elicited a groan at the table — everyone figured the food was done. But the arrival of tea spurred us on to sample a bit of the new selection — bhajiya, seekh kabab, vegetarian kababs (3 kinds — hariyali, dahi, and corn), khandvi, amiri khaman, and a set of indian desserts (malpua, moong dal halwa, 3 kinds of mithai, and ghujiya).

Now we were well and truly DONE.

NOPE. A full 2 hours after we had been seated, a plate of scones with clotted clean and fig jam appeared. And bowls of bhel from the chaat counter.

One person tried the scones. One person wanted some bhel. The rest looked on.

Our conclusion was that it was an afternoon of excess, but unfortunately and wastefully disorganized.

The food was average. The ambience is always :100:.

I have lost practice at the art of the Indian buffet.

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How was the tea (to drink)? I always expect amazing tea in India. My uncle is the secretary of the Calcutta Tea Traders Association so whenever we visit we get spoiled with gifts of really high quality leaves.

Do you think the service staff should have been more forthcoming about the sequence of food service? Generally I find service in the hospitality sector in India to be excellent but it sounds like your group was let down a bit here.

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I felt exactly the same way as you, @Saregama . Do you somehow feel that the Taj folks really went overboard with trying to overwhelm their guests with variety, rather than quality?

I’d have preferred a smaller spread, but done very well.

And the fact that they didn’t bother asking you about the teas (which should be the first thing they do) is really strange. We had the same experience, too - but one of my friends kept following-up with the waiters, so we got our tea quite soon afterwards - just because of my friend’s dogged persistence.

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The black teas (assam, darjeeling, a special Taj blend) were enjoyed by those who had them.

It was 4pm and I wanted proper boiled milk chai, so they made cardamom & ginger tea for some of us — that was not as good as what I can drink at home :joy: , a tad over-boiled and so the tannins were too strong.

There was a place called the Tea Centre that made perfect tea every single time — it was around from the time my parents were in college. Sadly closer a couple of years ago, after the pandemic.

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